When it comes to training hamstrings I find that for the majority of lifters, they take a “back seat” to the quads.
Perhaps this is because the hamstrings are “behind us” and get the “out of sight, out of mind” type treatment.
Or, maybe the hams are short changed because most trainees work them along with quads at a single workout, only getting to them after more than a dozen sets of grueling squats, leg presses and lunges.
However, maybe neither of those scenarios are familiar to you and you are attacking your hamstrings each week with the same intensity as any other body part - but unfortunately are not seeing much in the way of meaningful progress.
Regardless of the reason(s) your hams are lagging behind, the following is a list of “hamstring-helpers” meant to get things moving in the right direction!
1.Train Your Hamstrings Before You Work Your Quads
Squats, leg presses and lunges are very demanding movements, and thus by the time you get to hams you cannot help but be somewhat exhausted.
Flip the script on this and watch how much more intensity you can drive into your hamstring program. (Note: Another option is to simply train quads and hams on separate days).
2. Focus More on the Eccentric Contractions
I have found that the hamstrings are particularly responsive to “negatives” that last for 4-6 seconds and are followed by rapid (i.e. explosive) concentric contractions.
Utilize a tempo of 6/0/X on all leg curling movements and a 4/1/X tempo on stiff leg deadlifts/hyperextensions.
Tempo refers to the speed at which one completes the various contractions within each repetition. It is expressed in seconds, with an “X” meaning “as explosively as possible.” The first number is seconds for the eccentric (negative) contraction; the second number is seconds at the midpoint; the third number is seconds for the concentric (positive) contraction.
3. Train the Hams Unilaterally
Trust me when I tell you that you will feel every inch of any leg curling exercise to a far greater extent when done unilaterally.
Think of single-leg leg curls just as you would single-arm concentration or preacher curls.
4. Change the Order of Exercises
Reorganize your exercises so that at some workouts you start with a stretch movement (like stiff leg deadlifts, hyperextensions or straight leg good mornings) and at others you finish with one.
5. Try Training the Hamstrings Twice Weekly
Up your training frequency for a period of 4-6 weeks and see if they need a bit more stimulation than other muscle groups to manifest growth.
This is often the case with slower developing body parts.
Hamstring Helper Workout 1
|1. Seated Leg Curl||6/1/X/1||3||4-6|
|2. Single Leg Lying Curl||4/0/X/1||3||7-9 Each|
|3. Weighted Hyperextension||4/1/1/1||3||10-12|
Hamstring Helper Workout 2
|1. Stiff Leg Deadlift||4/1/1||3||10-12|
|2. Seated Leg Curl||4/1/X/1||3||7-9|
|3. Single Leg Standing Leg Curl||6/0/X/1||3||4-6 Each|